The minimum number of steps in a graph between two people. A way of referring to the 6 degrees of separation idea. If A knows B and B knows C then the handshake number of A and B is 2 (unless A also knows C, in which case it would be 1).

The phrase can also refer to the overall minimum number of steps to connect any two people in a specified group. I think that the handshake number for Canada is about 5.

Another application of this idea is the Erdos number project.

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